Stressed and agitated about all the "fake news" about Russia and his son's legal predicament, not to mention the ongoing train-wreck of his legislative agenda, Donald Trump decided to spend the weekend watching and tweeting about the US Women's Open tournament at his New Jersey golf club. It had to make him feel a little better, since the profits from these golf properties go into his own pocket.
According to this report from McClatchy's Anita Kumar, Trump is unique in that respect even as a business owner, much less a president of the United States -- who would normally be assumed to be too busy to make personal appearances for publicity at his profit-making businesses virtually every week.
Trump's Twitter feed indicated he was having a nice time, at least until The Washington Post unveiled its new poll numbers:
The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2017
That was a nice try, but the poll showed that Trump is actually at a 36 percent approval rating, which is the lowest rating of any president at this point in his presidency since Harry Truman. He is down six points from his 100-day mark; his disapproval rating is at 58 percent, with 48 percent "strongly disapproving" -- levels never reached by Bill Clinton or Barack Obama and only reached in George W. Bush's second term. He can tweet that it's not bad all he wants, but it's bad.
And it has to be mentioned that for all the right's yammering about the election polls being wrong, they actually weren't. The national average on the day before the election showed Hillary Clinton winning by a 3.5 percent margin, and she won the national popular vote by about 2 percent -- easily within the margin of error. People were shocked on election night because they just couldn't believe that he'd pulled off a weird inside straight in the electoral college, not because the polls had been rigged against him, which seems to be an article of faith among his faithful followers.
In any case, this poll shows that Trump is slipping badly with independent voters, 38 percent of whom approved of his leadership back in April. Only 32 percent are behind him now. Democrats aren't even worth counting at 11 percent. Yes, Republicans are still in his corner for the most part: Eighty-four percent approved of him in April and 82 percent approve now. Experts suggest that a president is in real trouble when approval among his own party dips below 80 percent, and that hasn't happened yet.
One of the most astonishing results in the poll regards the Russia scandal. Six in 10 Americans believe the Russian government tried to influence the election while 31 percent don't think it happened and 9 percent are unsure. Sixty percent of the public believe it happened, and 67 percent of those people think the Trump campaign was complicit.
But here's the weird number:
The number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who think that the Russians sought to influence the election, and that the Trump team intentionally helped them, has fallen from 18 percent in April to 9 percent now, indicating even stiffer GOP resistance to the idea. Among leaned Democrats it's gone from 60 to 64 percent, not a significant shift.
The more Republicans hear about it, the less they believe it happened. And we aren't just talking about Trump true believers. This is all Republicans, even ones who held their noses to voted for him. Considering the information we have, it would be fair to say "we don't know what really happened" but for Republicans to think there's less evidence today than there was three months ago is bizarre.
Still, a majority of Americans think Trump is interfering in the investigation and 63 percent think Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with someone he believed was from the Russian government, in hopes of collecting dirt on Hillary Clinton, was inappropriate. So there's that.
While the Russia scandal may inform people's views of Trump's leadership, it's his own behavior on the world stage that has 48 percent of the country believing that US global leadership is weaker since Trump was inaugurated. Only 27 percent think it's gotten stronger. That was supposed to be his big selling point -- his unique talent for making deals with foreign leaders. But only a little over one-third trust Trump in any negotiations with foreign countries.
Fifty-five percent say that Trump is not making much progress on his goals, which is probably a relief to most of them, particularly when it comes to health care. That GOP bill continues to be about as popular as E. coli: Only 24 percent support it. More troubling for Trump and the GOP is that they've lost older voters and white women without college degrees on this issue. Older voters vote in midterm elections, and women without college degrees make up a large portion of the population that will be affected by the possible loss of health care. They might just vote in larger than usual numbers too.
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll will be released later this week, but they teased their results with one interesting observation: Trump's base may finally be eroding a bit. They sampled voters in counties that either flipped from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 or where Trump did much better than Mitt Romney, and found that Trump's support is slipping.
In those counties where Trump did much better than Romney, he beat Hillary Clinton by a combined 65 to 29 percent. Today he's down to 56 percent approval. In the counties that flipped to Trump from Obama, the president's approval rating is just 44 percent. He won those overall with 51 percent last November.
All of these numbers are dismal for the president. The big question is the reasoning behind it. Gallup has some answers. It's not so much that people disagree on issues, which isn't all that surprising since Trump is all over the map on those. Sixty-five percent of people who disapprove of his performance in office say it's because of his character, personality and competency, specifically criticizing his bad temperament, arrogance, obnoxiousness, lack of experience, selfishness, racism and sexism, lack of knowledge, wishy-washiness and use of social media.
Certainly one can assume that Democrats, at least, are hostile to Trump's stands on issues as well, but because of his bad character and incompetence they don't feel that anything he says on the issues one way or the other is trustworthy. That's his problem: Donald Trump is demonstrating his unfitness for the job, right out there for everyone to see, every single day.